While our leaders actually don’t have much to fear when it comes to imposing pain on all the rest of us (sure, they might not be re-elected, but who among them will be homeless?), there’s this:
Two years after the Great Recession officially ended, job prospects for young Americans remain historically grim. More than 17 percent of 16-to-24-year-olds who are looking for work can’t find a job, a rate that is close to a 30-year high. The employment-to-population ratio for that demographic—the percentage of young people who are working—has plunged to 45 percent. That’s the lowest level since the Labor Department began tracking the data in 1948. Taken together, the numbers suggest that the U.S. job market is struggling mightily to bring its next generation of workers into the fold.
There’s also this:
In Arizona, where there are 10 job seekers for every opening, 45,000 people could lose benefits by the end of the year, according to estimates from the state Department of Economic Security. Yet employers in the state have added just 4,000 jobs over the last 12 months.
Some other states will also feel a disproportionate loss of income unless hiring revives. In Florida, where nearly 476,000 people are collecting unemployment benefits, employers have added only 11,200 jobs in the last year. In Michigan, employers have added about 40,000 jobs since May 2010, but about 267,000 people are claiming jobless benefits….
For many of the nearly 7.5 million people collecting unemployment benefits, those payments are keeping them afloat. Laura Metz, 42, was laid off from a clerical job paying $ 15.30 an hour at a home health care provider near her home in Commerce, Mich., nearly 15 months ago. She has been collecting $ 362 a week in unemployment insurance and about $ 50 a month in food stamps. That covers the basics. But Ms. Metz stopped making her mortgage payments last year on the modest home she shares with her 19-year-old son. A program that allowed her to make a lower monthly payment has expired, and she is waiting to see if the lender will modify her loan. She can no longer make her student loan payments for her bachelor’s degree or master’s in business administration.
So much for that MBA. But there’s also, even more horrible and depressing, this.
The jobless rate for veterans who served at any time since September 2001—called Gulf War-era II veterans—was 13.3% in June, up from 12.1% the month before, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In June 2010 it was 11.5%….
“It just so happens that there are a lot of people out there and there aren’t enough jobs,” said Pavel Ksendz, a 25-year-old Culver City resident who joined the Army in 2003, right after graduating from high school. After serving for four years, including 14 months in Iraq, Ksendz recently applied for a job as a janitor in Santa Monica, only to be told there were 59 other applicants….
Unemployment among veterans could rise even more in upcoming months as more troops return from overseas. President Obama announced plans last month to pull 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by year’s end and a total of 33,000 by September 2012. And the number of U.S. troops in Iraq is about 46,000 now, down from the peak of 166,000 in 2007. Most of the remaining troops will leave Iraq by year’s end.
There’s plenty enough austerity to go around right now. Adding to it by forcing seniors to put off getting medical care even longer, or reducing an already puny Social Security cost of living adjustment, or cutting off access to or reducing services under Medicaid will do nothing but compound that pain.
There’s enough austerity for us all to share right now. Now isn’t the time to add to it.